Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lobby Watch: Politicians Cower in Payday-Loan Pockets

Predatory lenders stuffed Texas politicians in their back pockets by stuffing nearly $2.5 million in their bank accounts in the last election.  The payday industry is spending up to $3.8 million this legislative session on 77 lobbyists that have so far successfully shredded every meaningful reform bill.

Read the fine print at Lobby Watch.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lobby Watch: American Phoenix's Ties to Macias
Feed Far-Right Conspiracy

The American Phoenix Foundation declines to say who's paying it to pursue compromising videos of Texas lawmakers. Two conservative lawmakers who separately hired American Phoenix founders Joseph and Hannah Basel say political consultant Luke Macias hired the Basels on their behalf.

Lobby Watch's analysis of the clients of Macias Strategies--and who bankrolls their campaigns--will further feed rumors that American Phoenix is targeting moderate Republican lieutenants of House Speaker Joe Straus--rumors that the group denies.

Dig into the conspiracy and the new Lobby Watch.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Watch Your Assets:
Eminent-Domain Billionaires Spark
West Texas Pipe Lying

The Texas Railroad Commission repeatedly misled the public about its involvement in two controversial gas pipelines.  After repeatedly claiming that it had no role in the project, the Railroad Commission quietly approved permits to allow ETP to condemn the land of hundreds of ranchers. Explaining such takings to the commissioners' xenophobic GOP base could be rough--given that the purpose of the pipelines is to supply gas to Mexico's state-owned electric company. 
 Read the Watch Your Assets report.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Watch Your Assets Report:
Abbott Confronts Contracting Crisis


The contracting reforms that Gov. Greg Abbott issued in January appear to have had such limited impact that they probably would not have prevented the 21CT scandal that prompted them. Public-Information records from 13 state agencies suggest that such policies already were in place at many agencies, according to TPJ’s new report.
Read the new Watch Your Assets report.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Lobby Watch: Tesla & Car Dealers up the Ante

Tesla Motors and Texas auto dealers both revved up their political spending as the electric-car maker again tries to overturn a law that bars direct sales of Teslas to Texas consumers.

https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSLdag4mP1nLaKR15aiI5hI47s_kM8Ut4pRXmi2X103aTK9QpxO8wTesla is outspending dealers 3:1 in the lobby, but dealers handed out 40 times more campaign cash. Tesla's Elon Musk narrowed those odds some by only giving money to winning candidates. In fact, he made most of his contributions after the election was in his rear-view mirror.

It's illegal to test drive a Tesla in Texas but you can take Lobby Watch for a spin.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Lobby Watch: Fracking Industry Gave Lawmakers $5.5 Million

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The energy industry is the state's most generous to political candidates. No wonder lawmakers are flocking around bills to block local government restrictions on fracking operations. One pro-fracking bill counts more than a third of the House as its sponsors! 

Sen. Troy Fraser leads his chamber in his dependency on fossil-fuel funds. Fraser authored a leading fracking-protection bill, as well as other key bills servicing oil-and-gas interests. 

Using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, Lobby Watch tracks $5.5 million in recent legislative hydrocarbon contributions from wellhead to war chest.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Statement on passage of SB 10 - public corruption enforcement.

Statement by Craig McDonald, director, Texans for Public Justice.

 “SB 10 is a politician’s dream posing as reform legislation. The bill creates a special legal system for the exclusive use of politicians. The bill does more to promote corruption than prosecute corruption.

SB 10 invites cronyism and hometown favoritism. Crimes should be prosecuted in the county in which they were committed.

Crimes of political corruption need to be treated like all other crimes.  Political crimes do not deserve special treatment. 

It is time for Texas to turn away from the crony corruption of the Perry administration.  This bill embraces it.”

Monday, April 6, 2015

TPJ calls for Paxton special prosecutor.
Sends complaint to Dallas & Collin Counties



TPJ today called upon Collin County DA Greg Willis to recuse himself from the securities fraud investigation of Attorney General Ken Paxton in order to trigger the appointment of an independent special prosecutor.

“Greg Willis’ stonewalling amounts to obstruction of justice,” said TPJ Director Craig McDonald. “Willis needs to step aside.  A special prosecutor needs to investigate whether or not the attorney general is a crook.”

In January, TPJ's original complaint against Paxton was referred to Willis and the Dallas County district attorney by Travis County prosecutors, who concluded that any illegal conduct by Paxton occurred in Collin and Dallas Counties.  The Houston Chronicle reported last week that Willis had taken no action to investigate the matter.  Last May, Paxton admitted to state regulators that he committed securities violations that constitute felony fraud.  Neither the Collin or Dallas DA's have initiated a criminal investigation of these apparent crimes.

In a letter sent today to Willis TPJ cited his friendship and joint business deals with Paxton as reasons why he needs to recuse himself to clear the way for an unbiased special prosecutor.



Letter to DA Willis calling for a Special Prosecutor.
Complaint filed in Collin County.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lobby Watch: The Politician, Lobby & Corruption Triad

Who knew Sen. Joan Huffman would have trouble passing her cynical scheme to keep corrupt politicians out of jail? Yet it's too soon to rule out SB 10--which also protects corrupt lobbyists.

Lobby Watch wonders if the lobbyists who gave Huffman more than $200,000 can twist a few arms to push through this bill that is so awkwardly and transparently self-serving. 

It'll take the ultimate special-interest coalition to secure immunity for lobbyists and politicians alike.

The Huffman-Lobbyist connections are exposed in Lobby Watch.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Statement on SB10, Public Integrity Unit

Statement by Craig McDonald.

 “SB 10 is a politicians dream, a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card for public officials. SB 10 creates a special legal system reserved for politicians only -- a system designed to end corruption prosecutions, not pursue them. 

The bill is another attack on local control by big government Republicans. It strips all county district attorneys of their traditional power to prosecute corruption within their own jurisdictions. It transfers that power directly to the Attorney General. 

Senator Huffman claims her bill will “restore public confidence” in corruption investigations and then hands those cases to a partisan attorney general, himself under a cloud of corruption allegations. In fact, punishing a corrupt politician under SB 10 requires the unanimous approval of the attorney general, the Texas Rangers, a state judge AND a district or county attorney SB 10 will likely breed more corruption by advertising the fact that there is no functioning deterrent.” 


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Between 1978 and 2012 the Travis County Public Integrity Unit has pursued public corruption cases in a non-partisan fashion.  Of the 21 elected officials it has prosecuted, 15 were Democrats and six were Republicans.